• Susan Byers

Pastorale

pas·to·rale/ˌpastəˈräl,ˌpastəˈral/

noun noun: pastorale; plural noun: pastorales; plural noun: pastorali

  1. MUSIC a slow instrumental composition in compound time, usually with drone notes in the bass.

  2. a simple musical play with a rural subject.


We are currently parked at Chantilly Festival Farm & RV Campground six miles outside the normally very musical town of Floyd, Virginia. It is quite rural here; besides the dozen campers parked on this relatively flat spot, and a few scattered cabins and other buildings, the mostly empty land around us undulates in broad waves of green, its edges defined by forest and the road below. We are fairly high up, just beneath--and sometimes in--the clouds. For over a month, persistent spring winds buffeted the camper almost unceasingly, sometimes until the glasses rattle. As the weather has warmed, they finally seem to have moved on--unless a storm blows through.


Across the road from where we are is a large pasture populated by about a dozen and a half cows and calves. They share the pasture with a massive bull, a donkey and two blond mules.




For the most part, they are silent, slow-moving figures occupying a classic pastoral scene: rolling hills of grass backed by hills of trees; puffy gray and white clouds scudding by just overhead; a farmhouse, greenhouse and barn tucked in a hollow among the hills. We often watch the grazing cattle as we let the dogs meander in the dog park down the hill. It is the very definition of bucolic.

** bu·col·ic /byo͞oˈkälik/

adjective

  1. relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life.

On one of our morning walks, we noticed that the cattle were absent. They occasionally are, either simply out of sight over the hill or grazing in a different pasture. Having noted their absence, we played awhile with the dogs, then leashed up and started back up the gravel road to our camper.


Suddenly, a loud, angry bovine "MAAAAAAA" droned across the hills, carried by the wind. Then another. And another. We turned to look.


In the middle of the pasture, a sturdy, black, white-faced cow was plodding steadily downhill toward the barnyard. A hundred yards behind her, just below the crest of the hill, her black calf was barely keeping pace and calling loudly to her, clearly objecting. "MAAAAAAA! MAAAAAAA! MAAAAAAA!" Finally, his mother replied, a deep, commanding bellow that sounded more like something from Jurassic Park than a barnyard. "MUUUUUH"


"MAAAAAAA! MAAAAAAA! MAAAAAAA!" the recalcitrant calf replied, but refused to move any faster.

** re·cal·ci·trant /rəˈkalsətrənt/ adjective

  1. having an obstinately uncooperative attitude toward authority or discipline.

You could almost hear an irate child insisting, "I don't wanna go home! I wanna play! Mo-o-o-m! Mom! I wanna play! Mo-o-o-m!"



"MUUUUUH" insisted his mother. "MAAAAAAA!" replied her petulant offspring, and began to lope toward her. Fifty yards closer, the calf slowed to a walk and began bawling again. "MAAAAAAA! MAAAAAAA! MAAAAAAA!"


After another booming command from his mother, he loped closer. The two continued in silence toward home together, and, smiles on our faces, so did we.









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